“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jack of all trades or Master of one?

While discussing K’s future course of life, I tell him that his choice of psychology is fine but there are several other interesting options. Like wildlife biology, social work, sound engineering ( K has a keen ear for music) archeology, forestry etc.,. Subjects close to my heart. K cocks his head and says – ‘Look, Pops (he has such affectations at times), I have observed the lives of you two, you and mother. You have so many interests, one can see it from all the weird books you have in your library. But tell me frankly, where have they taken you? You haven’t reached anywhere, have you? I mean, you have been a small-time bank official all your life, 30 years in a Bank, phew! And hating every minute of it. But look at mother. She had focused on teaching and Botany right as a young girl, now she is a Professor, quite respected, Head of her department, has a PhD too. Looking at the two of you, I believe that her path is better; so there, I am focusing on my favourite subject and would like to go on and build a life around it’.

It might seem a bit cruel for him to say that I have not reached anywhere but I don’t feel the pain because what he said is true. It wouldn’t be true if I said I hadn’t wanted to reach anywhere. But early in life I reckoned that there are too many interesting things in the world to focus on one. Specialization, like somebody said, is for insects. A man had to know everything. I thought hell, there is only one life, and I want to taste as many things as possible. I would rather be a dilettante in many things rather than an expert in one. Fact is, my ego had to take severe beatings several times.

But it was a deliberate choice. Though at times of rueful reflection I have suspected my characteristic lethargy behind the decision not to pursue any single thing deep. Still I am unclear which would be the right choice. Looking back at my 50 plus years here, I cannot imagine what my life would have been without – starting from stamp collection and Agatha Christie at 10 to romance, travel, trekking, photography, movies, music, Kathakali, Sociology, tribal life, bird watching, organic farming, environmental activism, biking, poetry, HIMALAYAS, dogs, spirituality, family – bank has provided my bread, but it would have been a stale life if I hadn’t all these and a few more I cannot recollect. All I had wanted in my youth is a job so that I will be independent and still free to do most of the things that I wanted to do. Yes, I agree that the even the single track-minded have more than one interest, but they ensure that their energies are not dissipated.

I wish my son all the best. But I hope that in his urge to reach the destination he wouldn’t forget to enjoy the sceneries en route.

************ Balachandran V, Trivandrum 04.03.2010


  1. Psychology is not so bad , Mr B . Considering half the population is suffering from depression , stress etc and counselors are an absolutely necessity..

    But you ask me , i would say focus on that one thing that captures your heart truly. Like , that thing which makes you forget time while you are engaged in it , that which lessens your stress and fills u a new energy when u engage in it..

    You might have a million interests , but you can never miss your passion. can you?

    Thats just my view. And good luck to K with whatever he wants to do in life.

  2. im sure K wudn have meant the way it unfortunately sounded.well,if i am to say, i wud take ur path, enjoyng life to its best doing MY favourite things. where i dont wail n whine abt lack of time.its good no that u got a bank job where u can earn ur bread and do lota favourite things as well.

  3. @ Sumi: From my experience I would, if given a second chance, do the same things again, but would give more focus on the most favorite thing as Gymnast said. But I would dabble in the rest of the things, can't help it! :)

  4. Dey,

    Why must you harbour an ego????Ego is meant for failed men and little beings.Who reminds themselves of their littleness( wonder if the expression is correct)
    K was candid and forthright in his expressions about you being a gypsy. But that dosent mean you have not tasted the little many things you mentioned and made you richer .So man get going. Each man in his on way. P ofcourse excelled in her line of profession. But Im sure you will feel more content the way you have been and are.

  5. Bal's, And continuing ha ha ...
    K's selection of the subject can help him dweleve deeper into two wiered psychologies ha ha ha ha ha
    and fathom if he one day can, why , how and what , ha ha ha h,

  6. @anill: Hahahahahahahahkkakkakkkakakaka! :D

  7. Hello Balan,
    An interesting summation of your feelings. Well rounded look at the roads journeyed by your wife and yourself. In the end, we will walk that road within ourselves choosing to ease our way into what we think to be our heart's desire; our destiny, if you will.. Some will find, in later years, other roads may have led them to their perfect pedestals in life...places that may have fulfilled their dreams; but alas, too late.... Excellent ponderings and admissions.... Sandy

  8. Hi Mr B, i been pondering about something i read recently as the prelude of a book- all that remained is the scientific specialist, who knew "more and more about less and less," and the philosophical speculator, "who knew less and less about more and more." (Will Durant, Story of Philosophy)
    but speaking from your experience, you added flavor to the whole concept, around which i been thinking for long hours of late.. Thanks :)


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